Date of Award

Spring 2021

Document Type

Thesis Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chairperson

Maureen McVeigh Trainor, M.F.A.

Committee Member

Kristine Ervin, Ph.D., M.F.A

Committee Member

Jason Vanfosson, Ph.D.


Pool of Tears is a contemporary murder mystery set in Miami, Florida, with amateur sleuth-protagonist Megan Reed. The novel begins as Meg witnesses the kidnapping of baby Sofia. Her instincts, humanity, and curiosity drive her to investigate the baby-napping alongside the actual criminal investigation. Pool of Tears uses the double-narrative structure (plot and mystery puzzle) to challenge traditional cozy-mystery structure in which both parts serve similar rhetorical purposes: the novel creates a world that is encapsulated in the puzzle of the murder, and as soon as the puzzle is solved, the story ends. In contrast, the kidnapping in Pool of Tears is related to a larger crime which ultimately results in murder. The timing of Cesar’s death further complicates the non-linear narrative structure and increases the dead body’s importance to the plot, giving it a purpose beyond inciting incident or logic puzzle.

My goal in these chapters is to expand and critique murder mystery’s second narrative, the puzzle, by highlighting how Meg’s worldview as a woman and as an individual affects her approach to problem-solving and meaning-making. Her collaborative approach to crime solving--one that doesn’t position her as the expert--but sees her working with her best friend, Manuel, and sister, Brynn, to solve the mysteries, is more authentic and empathetic. Solving the crime as a connected member of a problem-solving community acknowledges the role of identity markers (cultural, religious, gender, etc.) and place (geography/setting) in making meaning for all characters in the novel, but especially Meg.